Physically, we are constantly faced with the need to perform various physical actions such as walking, running, sitting, skating, biking, swimming, opening bottles, lifting and many more. As we grow older, or if we have any illness, sometimes our physical actions become limited, or modified. Too often I watch people become increasing disabled by their perception of their limitations.
Even if people go to a physical or occupational therapist, or exercise physiologist, or athletic trainer, they may develop different habits or believe “they can’t do it anymore”. As I watch people, and as I experience my own limitations due to illness or surgery, it occurred to me that more of us should choose mental practice or motor imagery. This is the act of visualizing certain motor movements in your head to help you perform them in reality. There are many sources of information regarding mental practice that elite athletes have utilized for years.
The benefits from mental practice have been documented with surgeons, musicians, golfers, figure skaters, and patients recovering from a stroke to name a few. For persons with serious illnesses such as any of the cancers, I encourage you to try “mental practice” as a substitute during those times when you feel anxious, or worried. Mental practice will help to fill the time while you wait to meet with your therapists or doctors, as well as helping you regain some control of your limbs (such as your arms after breast surgery for example) as you work towards health and improved movement again.
I am grateful for the benefits from mental practice to help me as I grow older, recover from various surgeries, and improve my proficiency and physical performance. I feel gratitude especially as I link “visualizing an action” during “meditation”. This “duality of purpose” is effective for improving my overall outlook about life as well regaining my physical performance. Today, I have gratitude for mental imagery. Try it!
Another interesting post, Mary. I learned this a long time ago from my mom, who was terrified of driving but told me she’d lie in bed at night and mentally “practice” her driving skills. She finally did get her licence – when she was almost 70 years old! Thanks for the reminder. I hadn’t thought about this in years.
Thanks for your comment. I think this will be helpful to patients left with physical limitations from surgery.